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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Merrill Buys Stake in Trust

Merrill Lynch bought a stake in Trust Banking Group, a company once controlled by jailed billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky, to expand in Russia, the companies said in a joint statement Thursday.

The world's largest brokerage agreed to buy 10 percent of the retail- and investment-banking group, the statement said. The investment- and retail-banking units of Trust will later be merged.

"We view this investment as an opportunity to leverage off the local knowledge'' that Trust has throughout Russia, Andrew Gazitua, Merrill's chief operating officer of global origination, said in the statement.

Merrill started trading in Moscow in August, wanting to gain from the country's record share and bond sales and an increase in mergers and acquisitions. Merrill and Trust didn't reveal the terms of the deal.

Managers of Trust's investment bank bought it from Khodorkovsky's Group Menatep in 2004 to distance it from the billionaire and his now-bankrupt Yukos. Yukos, the bank's largest client, came under government investigation for tax evasion and fraud in 2003.

Trust Banking Group chairman Ilya Yurov, one of the three executives in the company who sold their shares to Merrill, said at a news conference that Trust had no plans to attract any more new shareholders.

"We are not going to expand the makeup of the partnership," he said, Interfax reported. (

Bloomberg, MT